SanMig's James Yap creates a shot under the basket against Meralco's Reynel Hugnatan, Mike Cortez and Mario West during first half PBA action at Smart Araneta Coliseum.   Photo by Tony Pionilla

Petron, Rain or Shine kick off series
by Waylon Galvez

Game Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7:15 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Petron Blaze

Never mind that San Mig Coffee only had a day to rest from an emotional and physical quarterfinal series with Alaska.

Showing the same resolve in winning their do-or-die match with the Aces last friday, the Mixers downed the Meralco Bolts, 83-73, to take Game 1 of their best-of-five Final Four series in the PBA Governors’ Cup last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Veteran Joe Devance delivered the telling blows for the Mixers, scoring 10 of his 17 points in the fourth period, including eight in a fiery 19-8 run to help San Mig Coffee pull away for good.

In that stretch, the 6-foot-7 Devance banged in two three-pointers, before a two-handed slam dunk by Marc Pingris gave the Mixers their biggest lead at 79-69 with 2:07 left in the game.

“We just hang around until we got something going,” said San Mig Coffee mentor Tim Cone, whose team trailed by as many as 10 points, 40-50, early in the third quarter. “No doubt we were emotionally drained from our last game against Alaska.”

“I think the injury of Allain (Maliksi) brought us down a little bit, to lose him like we did was a devastating blow,” added Cone.

The 6-foot-4 forward Maliksi has been ruled out for the conference with a tear ACL on his left knee.

“It was a great defensive battle, they’re a little bit undersize but their guys are so quick. They’re really a destructive force in the first half. This we’ll be a series of attrition,” said Cone.

San Mig Coffee import Marcus Blakely, who was held to just two points in the first half, finished with 15 points with 10 rebounds and two shot blocks, while James Yap and rookie Alex Mallari contributed 15 and 12 points, respectively.

Rookie Cliff Hodge led Meralco with 19 points with three three-pointers, while Mike Cortez and John Wilson added 12 and 10 points, respectively. Import Mario West, who averaged 28.3 points during the eliminations, was held to only nine markers with 10 boards.

SAN MIG COFFEE 83 – Devance 17, Blakely 15, Yap 15, Mallari 12, Pingris 8, Barroca 7, Simon 7, Reavis 2, Acuna 0, Najorda 0.

MERALCO 73 – Hodge 19, Cortez 12, Wilson 10, West 9, Reyes 6, Cardona 6, Hugnatan 6, Dillinger 2, Salvacion 2, Ross 1.

Quarters: 18-22, 35-38, 57-55, 83-73.

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